A band that cannot be pinned down to a specific genre respectively style of music. And so on this occasion we have a Space Rock odyssey at hand, featuring an android as the protagonist. Meant as a spiritual excursion in the same way this is excellently worked out from the band that is headed by multi-instrumentalist Steve Babb, needless to say. Hannah Pyror's crystal clear vocals are a counterpart to the mostly heavy loaded, slightly dark mooded atmosphere.
Wolf 359 5:35
a dramatic course of events to be assumed due to the stomping rhythm
Mare Sirenum 2:57
Rift At Wasp-12 4:11
Proxima Centauri B 5:16
nice, very smooth bass lines ...
The Return Of Daedalus 16:50
wow, excellent musicianship, this (nearly) instrumental track appeals like an improv session, being totally free and having enough inspiration for a deep space and time exploration, finally even meeting Daedalus somewhere ...
This is perhaps the album we have all been waiting for from Glass Hammer. With Culture of Ascent, the group has shored up its previous areas of weakness–mainly vocals and guitar. This is a huge step up from their last record, The Inconsolable Secret. While I’m not ready to say that this is their best album (since I have a soft spot in my heart for Lex Rex), it is most certainly their most mature, well-rounded effort. There is a very strong retro (dare I say, derivative?) sound which is evident throughout, which can be attributed to the subtle vocal sounds provided by Jon Anderson and the opening track cover of “Southside of the Sky”. This really does like Yes. Now don’t get me wrong, I say this as a sincere compliment to the music that exists on this new record.
As I said, the opening track is a cover of Yes’ “Southside of the Sky”. This works out very well in my opinion. Not only is that just a good song, but Glass Hammer does a wonderful rendition of it with Susie Bogdanowicz providing the lead vocals with Mr. Jon Anderson provided some backing sounds. Sure, it’s not an original song, but this version just sounds great, in my opinion. Susie continues to shine when given the opportunity to carry the vocals for the group.
Yes (and/or Jon Anderson) fans will also like “Life by Light” as Anderson does the most singing on this song. Lots of good stuff going on here as the guitars, keyboards and bass all have nice moments.
My favorite songs though are the two big epics, “Ember Without Name” and “Into Thin Air”, both clocking in at over 16 minutes. The first of these (Ember) is vintage Glass Hammer and will remind some of disc 1 of The Inconsolable Secret. “Into Thin Air” fleshes out the album’s theme which is about a mountain climber’s quest to climb Mt. Everest. This theme is based upon the book of the same name: Culture of Ascent.
Lastly, the artwork for this album is fantastic. Dark, majestic, eerie and awe-inspiring are the words that come to mind when describing the visual cover art. I highly recommend this for fans of Glass Hammer, Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. For the rest of you prog lovers, I also would recommend Culture of Ascent as a wonderful introduction to this talented group of musicians.